The setting is a rocky space in the mountains; Athena is seated upon a rock, keeping look out, while Zeus sits on the other side of the stage, both with their helms laid aside but near to hand. Athena never lets go of her spear, and Zeus's hand is never far from his thunderbolt. She does not look at him, though he looks at her.
Alone you stayed when all have fled,
Grey eyed Athena, of all most wise;
And we two now remain to brave
This fight with Typhon; his birth be
Cursed! It is to spite us that
Earth spawned this last and worst of brood
To plague us when our trials and labours
Seemed at long last overcome!
Do you know if our craven kin
Have yet been slain, or wheresover
They have flown? For truly, though they
Have forsaken Greece and me in one,
Yet I would never desire to see
My siblings and my children die.
Oh tell, where are they now?
Be you content, King of the Heavens;
Those of your blood are safe away
In Egypt, though they are sore afraid,
For Typhon chased them far afield
Before you drew him back to war,
And now, advised by tricksy Pan,
They have concealed their higher selves
Within the forms of mortal creatures;
Shining Apollon soars into the clouds
Even as does his fiery chariot,
dressed in the feathers and cruel talons
Of the near proudest of birds: a hawk;
Fierce Artemis, his elder twin
Hunts prey still with such great delight
Though wearing now the fur and claws
Of a common cat; your consort queen
The Lady Hera took upon herself
The shape that is her sacred beast
That once you cast upon her priestess -
That poor wretched unhappy Io -
And wades the Nile as a white cow;
The cunning darling Hermes apes
Beings more solemn than himself,
And struts along the river banks
And preens his wings with ibis head;
Dionysus, your son-daughter,
Searches still for sweet grapes to crush
And make the wine that drives men mad
But sniffs them out with a goat's nostrils;
Hephaestus carries still his strength
Now found in the shoulders of an ox;
The frothy one, from Aphros born
Returned to the water whence she came
And with her son, that boy whose arrows
Serve his mother's whims and whines
Put off their beauty and drew on scales
And swim in the tides of the Euphrates
As two small fish; and after them leapt
That coward son whom all do loathe,
And Ares too hides himself away
And flexes fins and gapes the current
Rather than face this terrible foe;
And Pan, smart Pan, whose plan this was
Took to dive under the water as well,
His hinder legs now scaled and twined as one,
And the hair and goat and all transferring to his head.
That's all I know of; your brothers
Are no doubt couched in respective realms,
For what should they care for this terror?
Poseidon has all of the sea, and glories that
For once he's better off than you,
And what happens above the earth
In life's domain holds no intrigue
Or savour for the Wealthy One;
Hades will only see the change
When more come to his shadowed realm
In such a rush as never before.
There are no more, we are the last
Defence against Typhon the Dread.
All I have told; what counsel you wish
I will provide, but I will not stay;
I will hunt this creature alone
And not by your side, King of the Gods.
But…wherefore comes this refusal?
When first you walked upon the earth
With helm new crafted, form new born,
And brandished spear and burnished shield
At our dire foes, the foulest Titans,
You did not scorn to fight by me –
Rather you sought the prospect out,
Refused to let other take that place
Beside my side, and well you stood me,
That I never sought another right hand;
Nor would I now, and I rejoiced
That you alone had not renounced
Our home, myself, our noble cause,
That my first and indeed most best
Would that Uranus, former king,
Leave off from mourning his lost blood
And butchered flesh to strike you dumb
Before the realm you claimed from him
Be so polluted with such lies!
What, in this hour when all is peril,
You choose to speak of wrecked love ties,
Of bondage forged in flames tainted
With falsehood, treachery, foul deceit,
And not the true clean flames of honour,
Of decency, patience, respect!
I've said too much, I'll say no more,
But do not call me that 'daughter'
Which means no more to one like you
Than does it to that cruel Typhon!
What have I done, Athena sharp
With words that bite and claw my heart
To earn such barbs and taunts from you
My first child – yes, I will say such,
Do not deny, for you know all;
You can't forget that from my skull
You burst, girl-shaped inspiration;
My first and finest of offspring,
Born of my first and greatest love;
How can you say, my grey eyed one,
That you are not first in my esteem?
I say so, and I speak the truth;
Your memory's short, ego bloated
To think I would so soon forget
The way that you denounced that child
That you proclaim to so adore.
Prometheus; it's him again?
Why does that traitor set his mark
Forever upon our family?
He's poisoned you against us all!
Would that you'd not inherited
That pride of which Metis the Wise
Was ever truly rich in store.
How like you then, most proud and base,
To think that it is wounded pride
That keeps me from your gaudy halls
And your smug voices, that I take
My leave of you to prove a point!
It is that, yes, I don't deny; but more,
Much more, much more than pride.
Understand this; my pride you broke,
But something other shattered too
And nothing will the breakage mend,
No protestations, pleas and whines
Can take back what you did to us;
And when you try to ply sweet words
They fuel the urge to laugh and weep.
Do then your kin, your own father,
Mean just so little to your heart,
That you'd throw in your lot with him
Who's chained forever to that rock,
And will not buy his sure release
By telling what I need to know-
Do you prize him, then, over me?
What do you think? What reason have
You given me to cling to you?
You sit there, claim that you love me.
Well, I sit here and tell you true,
I loved you once. But now that time
Is dead and gone; I love you not.
This is not so, it cannot be,
You don't believe this, not truly!
There's water in your eyes, you weep,
The falsehood will not stay in you!
Let it flow then, all away;
Lady of Wisdom I am, not tricks;
That's Hermes business, never mine.
But I do not lie when it comes to you;
There is no love in you, great Zeus,
And great you are, but loving not.
Why do you think our fellows fled?
Ties of blood are not enough,
Already they regret the triumph
That put you on the godly throne.
How strange it is, the one who stays
Both hates and loves you with such heat?
But I do not fight on this day
For you or any of my kin;
My heart turns to my people now
For in my people is my hope
And my son rules them, and by all
That's in me, I will be a
Better mother unto him
Than you a father unto me.
A son? A child? Your words are mad!
How so? Do you think then
A virgin may not have a child
Or know the tender mother's love?
Yes, I've known it, and known it well
As you most surely never did
For all you've spent your rampant seed
In every hole known to the world!
I had a son, I have a son, I kept him
Hidden, safe from you, and now that
You or I may die I name him to you;
Erikhthonius; child of struggle,
And child of earth – how harsh the pang,
That his brother might wipe him out!
I hear the thunder roaring now,
No longer your servant, but his;
I must needs go.
Will you return, or leave me here?
If I leave you, where shall I go?
Where can I be but here, by you,
My general, my fallen father?
What place is there but by your side
When your peril is at the most?
I hate it here, but yet I cannot
Find my peace elsewhere at all;
Not with my kin, or by my son,
Or in the bowels of this earth
Who plots and schemes to wipe us out!
Why did you give me that aegis
That marks and sets me under you
Yet seems to show such great esteem?
I'd tear it from my shoulders but
I acknowledge its meaning still!
For if Typhon had not emerged
In time I might have been once more
A child of prophecy, and up risen
Against you, and struck you down
With lightening that I do wield too,
And crying harsh tears all the while.
Then know, if we shall die today,
Of all my children now and then,
All that do live and that have died
And might yet be or never will,
I do love you – for I know love!
If I must die in this conflict
Of all those who might be beside me
Before and at the end, I would not have
Any other but only you, my marvellous,
Miraculous, mistreated Athena.
A pause. Athena regains her control; Zeus looks away in his own tears.
Let us not talk of dying,
For who knows where it is gods go
When they are severed from this world?
Do you rest and I will watch,
And then we'll plan what you
And I too, perhaps, shall do.